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3 Pranayamas For Beginners

by Mireya Semeles: Pranayama is the 4th limb of yoga after the YamasNiyamas and the Asana… 

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“Prana” is “vital energy” in the body and it represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force. “Ayama” means control. Pranayama is often referred to as “breath control” and it goes hand in hand with your practice on the mat. Whether it is during the asana sequence or at the beginning or end of it. There are countless Pranayamas with different objectives: to cool down, to warm up, to release anxiety, to energize, just to name a few. If you’re new to breath control exercises, here are three simple techniques  you can try at home. 3 pranayamas for beginners

Nadi Shodana or Alternate Nostril Breathing

In Sanskrit Nadi means ‘channel’ or ‘flow’ and shodhana is the word for ‘purification.’ This pranayama is therefore destined to purify the subtle energy channels of the body to allow for the prana to flow around it more easily. It is a great pranayama to practice when feeling stressed or anxious, as it helps to lower the heart rate and induce calmness. It is also said to be extremely beneficial to increase concentration, as it synchronizes the two hemispheres of the brain.

Step by step pranayama instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor, mat or meditation cushion with your head and spine tall (you can use a block or a blanket under your seat to help your spine stand up right).
  2. Close your eyes and place one hand on top of that same knee. You can choose to have this hand on a mudra position or just having your palm resting gently on the knee.
  3. Bring the thumb (if using the right hand) or ring finger (if using the left hand) of the other hand over your right nostril to gently close it.
  4. Take a deep inhale through your left nostril, then close it with your ring finger (if using the right hand) or thumb (if using the left hand).
  5. Open the right nostril and exhale slowly through it.
  6. Take a deep inhale through your right nostril, then close it with your thumb (if using the right hand) or ring (if using the left hand).
  7. Open the left nostril and exhale slowly through it.
  8. Repeat this cycle 3 to 5 times.
  9. Release the hands and go back to normal breathing.

Ujjayi Pranayama or Victorious Breathing

In Sanskrit Ujjayi means to conquer, to be victorious. Ujjayi breathing is extensively practices throughout the asana sequences, especially during long holds and challenging poses, as it helps to bring space and strength to every muscle of the body while increasing concentration of the mind. It is a great breathing exercise to practice to quiet the mind.

Step by step pranayama instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor, mat or meditation cushion with your head and spine tall (you can use a block or a blanket under your seat to help your spine stand up right).
  2. Inhale through your nose, then exhale through your opened mouth as if you were fogging a mirror with your breath. Make sure to make your exhale at least as long as your inhale.
  3. Repeat the above as many times as you need until you hear and feel the sound coming from the back of your throat.
  4. Once you have the technique, close your eyes and repeat step B. but with your mouth closed i.e. inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
  5. Practice for 5 to 8 minutes and then return to normal breathing for a couple of minutes more.

Simhasana or Lion Pose

In Sanskrit Simha means lion and asana refers to pose. Simhasana combines a physical posture with a specific breathing technique. In addition to relieving tension in the chest and face, this pose helps firm the muscle on the front of the throat, building collagen and preventing the appearing of wrinkles and the pulling down of the corners of the mouth (which is a sign of the mentioned muscle being contracted). In other words, this technique slows down the aging of the skin.

Step by step pranayama instructions:

  1. Stand on your knees and cross the right foot over the left.
  2. Sit back so that you are sitting on your right heel.
  3. Place your hands on top of your knees and spread your fingers wide, simulating the lion’s claws.
  4. Inhale deeply through your nose and then open your mouth as much as you can, widening your tongue out (tip pointing down towards the chin).
  5. Open your eyes wide and slowly exhale all the breath out from the back of your throat through your mouth, creating a “ha” sound.
  6. Repeat this for 3 to 5 times and then cross your left foot over your right foot and practice the technique for the same amount of times.
  7. Release the pose and go back to normal breathing

Source: Yoga Time

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